Enabling Variable Renewables and Driving Down Emissions, with Electric Vehicles

At a media frenzied event last March, electric car manufacturer, Tesla, unveiled its Model 3. Priced to compete with conventional fossil-fuelled vehicles, it attracted over 325,000 reservations within a week.  The hype built around this vehicle, and several other fast and slick electric cars, is but a symptom of a much larger and growing movement across the motor vehicle industry, to cut the transport sector’s oil addiction and switch to electric power.

Globally the stock of electric vehicles is on the rise, and in 2015 more than one million electric vehicles were on the road. That number grew to more than two million in 2016, with China, the US, and several European countries leading the way in uptake. Continue reading Enabling Variable Renewables and Driving Down Emissions, with Electric Vehicles

Sustainable Flight with Biofuels

If the aviation sector were a country, it would be the eighth-largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world — using planes and helicopters to move people and cargo around the world produces around two percent of the world’s planet warming gases. In 2010, carbon dioxide (CO­2) emissions, the  primary contributor of human-caused climate change, from international aviation amounted to 448 megatonnes (Mt). The International Civil Aviation Organisation has forecasted that CO2 emissions from the aviation sector will increase to the range of 682 Mt to 755 Mt by 2020, and could even be as high as 2,700 Mt by 2050, a six-fold increase from 2010 levels, if nothing is done about it.

So what can be done? What’s the environmentally responsible solution for aviation, and how can emissions be reduced, short of removing planes from the skies? Continue reading Sustainable Flight with Biofuels

Ministers Gather to Discuss Development with Off-Grid Renewables

Over a billion people in rural and peri-urban areas live without electricity, and another 2.9 billion rely on traditional fuels (like firewood) for cooking and heating. The Sustainable Development Goals recognise that bringing affordable electricity access to these people will enable increased productivity, higher incomes, improved food and water security, enhanced access to healthcare and education, and a host of other benefits towards developing communities and raising people out of poverty.

But what’s the best way to sustainably bring electricity access to people and gain this myriad of benefits in a timely manner? Off-grid renewables offer one approach that fulfils these needs and is both economical and good for the environment. Continue reading Ministers Gather to Discuss Development with Off-Grid Renewables

Planning for Solar and Wind

Spurred by ambitious national commitments, international agreements and rapid technological progress, governments are increasingly choosing renewable energy to expand their countries’ power infrastructures. In 2014, renewables provided 23% of power generation worldwide, and with the adoption of more ambitious plans and policies, this could reach 45% by 2030.

Amid this accelerating transition, the variability of solar and wind energy — two key sources for renewable power generation — presents new challenges. It also raises questions, like ‘How do you power a country when the wind isn’t blowing or the sun isn’t shining?’ and ‘How does variable power fit with the delivery of reliable electricity?’

Continue reading Planning for Solar and Wind

Transforming the Power Sector, at IRENA Ministerial Meeting

Renewable energy, for three years running, has accounted for more new power generation capacity installed worldwide than all other sources combined. In 2015, over USD 270 billion were invested in solar PV and wind power, boosting capacity by 47 GW 63 GW respectively. This capacity is expected to only grow and efforts are now focusing on implementing an innovative enabling framework to integrate these technologies at the scale needed. But that is not a simple task and questions still remain: what technologies and tool are part of the power sector transformation? What still needs to be developed? And how can IRENA assist?
Continue reading Transforming the Power Sector, at IRENA Ministerial Meeting

Today’s Legislation for Tomorrow

A few years ago it would have been impossible for many to imagine that renewables would be in the position they are in today. Dramatic price drops and huge increases in investment and installed capacity have transformed renewables into a power source that can be part of supporting the global economy. But how can this momentum be maintained, and what role do policies have in bringing about a sustainable future?

“Lawmakers have a rich history of creating the policy and legal frameworks that can drive renewable energy deployment. Their role is even more critical as governments look to transform their energy infrastructure and markets,” said IRENA Director-General Adan Z. Amin, at IRENA’s second Legislators Forum on 13 January 2017. “By bringing together lawmakers from around the world concerned about energy issues, IRENA can better support their efforts to accelerate the energy transition.” Continue reading Today’s Legislation for Tomorrow

Finding a Way to Transform Energy on Islands

Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are on the frontlines of global climate change. Dependent on the ocean for their livelihoods, yet threatened by its rising and acidifying waters, this assemblage of the world’s lowest lying countries are some of the most outspoken and driven countries for decarbonisation and renewable energy.

Matching ambition with reality, however, is not simple, and SIDS need international support to accomplish their decarbonisation goals. But what does that support look like? What is needed to identify the best pathways for SIDS to achieve a renewable energy future and to establish the necessary frameworks for accessing financial support at the speed and scale required to transform their energy systems? Continue reading Finding a Way to Transform Energy on Islands

Covering the latest news from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and developments in renewables.